European Prospects
Exploring European Identity through Photography

Coquimbo & Swansea

Portfolio Coquimbo & Swansea

These two geographies, Coquimbo, Chile and Lower Swansea Valley, Wales are connected through extraction and smelting processes that took place between 1840 and 1880. The project recalls the Geographical and Geological Explorations, which, motivated by scientific, military and economic interests, reconnoitred the Western territories of the U.S.A during the 19th century; at that time, the industrial sites represented were in full production.

The project is conceived in terms of the journey of the copper from initial extraction and smelting in Chile, over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, towards the final smelting and manufacturing processes, in the once heavily industrialised River Tawe in the Lower Swansea Valley.

These photographs bring together a series of ignored historical relations that are obscured by new forms of territorial occupation, such as settlements, stadiums, gentrified developments and shopping centres. While in Chilean the remote landscapes appear neglected as lack of awareness of their historical significance, in the Lower Swansea Valley, traces of copper industry have been almost completely erased as result of revolutionary conservation work carried from the 1960s to the 1980s to reclaim the toxic land caused by the smelting industries.

An exhibition of this work is scheduled for the Swansea Waterfront Museum in 2017.